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Tips for hiking with young children and preschoolers Family Travel

If you Follow us on Instagram, You have probably noticed that we go on MANY hikes with our boys, who are now 4 and 6 years old. We are lucky enough to live in the Peak District and have an abundance of fantastic hiking trails on our doorstep. Equipped with an OS map, good hiking shoes and a bottle of hot chocolate and marshmallows, we love nothing more than a long walk in the mountains together.

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I get so many messages from frustrated parents who want to go on family walks. So I thought it was time to share our top hiking tips with young children and preschoolers!

These tips are not only suitable for a family hike in the country, but also for city trips where there is always a lot on foot.

With these tips for hiking with the family, I also share what was worked for our Family. Every family is different and some of them may not work for you. That’s okay, but I hope you will find at least a few ideas here the next time you hike with children.

1. Drop the buggy and luggage rack

Admittedly, I miss these days of hiking with a baby, in which you can cover many kilometers with a small piece that is attached to your back or in a buggy. Many parents carry on with a luggage rack when hiking with toddlers, but this means that they are not really walking and most likely will be put to sleep by fresh air and swings.

When our youngest turned 18 months, we broke off the hike and rarely drove around the city on a buggy unless absolutely necessary.

Yes, it was very slow with them and it would take an age to travel a very short distance. However, since there was no buggy or luggage rack on site, the temptation to use it was gone. It meant that they got used to hiking at a young age.

This approach involved a lot of patience from us parents, which was thankfully rewarded with an afternoon nap.

2. Pack more snacks than you think necessary

I’m already wondering how much the boys eat when we hike. They always keep snacks going. Of course, start with the healthy options. But at the end of the hike, sweets and chocolate are a treat. We sometimes get a parent to run ahead and hide the treat behind a stone. It definitely gets them moving 😉

Also make sure you take enough water. Although hot chocolate in a bottle is always a boon in the colder months.

8. Play, sing songs and deal with them

“Going for a bear hunt” (from the Book by Michael Rosen) was always a popular song on our hikes when the boys were little. This can then be adjusted for everything along the way. We recommend doing a verse about “poo”. The always lift the mood!

We go bear hunting (We go bear hunting)
We’ll catch a big one (We’ll catch a big one)
We are not afraid (We are not afraid)
What a beautiful day! (What a beautiful day)

Oh grass! Long wavy grass.
We can’t think about it, we can’t do it underneath
Oh no! We have to go through it!
Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy!

A popular game is the “Nature Shopping List”. The children receive a list of the items they need to find. This can be, for example, a feather, a stone, a stick or a leaf. For older children, the list could look like this – something prickly, something yellow, something smooth. This is a great game to explore the area on a family hike. These items can be collected for a home craft project.

Or maybe make them take pictures on you children camerato print out and make a collage when you are at home.

We would also like to include them in the navigation. Show them the objects on the map that you are looking for on your hike if you are using an OS map. I often pretend I can’t find the style or gate we need to find and the boys run away giggling to wear it and wonder how blind their mother is!

Another idea is geocaching. This is an outdoor treasure hunt game in which participants (geocachers) use a GPS receiver or other navigation techniques to hide and search for containers.geocaches“Or” caches “). This is a good idea for children ages 4 and up and more information can be found on the geocaching.com website,

9. Hike with friends

With additional children for the hike, there are more friends to play with. This can be difficult when children are in different stages with their physical abilities. Try to meet families with children of the same age, otherwise parents with younger children may be too tempted to shoulder their little ones to keep up with everyone.

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